Welcome to the jungle

rambo2.jpg

Now that Sylvester Stallone seems determined to dust off his most enduring screen roles, if he decides to shuffle back to the cinematic well, it will have to be from some of the lesser names of his canon. Might I take a moment to offer a few suggestions:

Cobra 2: Time to Strike – Lieutenant Marion Cobretti dispatches his “Zombie Squad” to shady dealings at a senior citizens home, where most of the thugs from the original film now reside. It seems they’ve been running smack through the Metamucil supply. When one of the home’s members accidently ODs while trying to stay regular, she ruins Bingo Night and brings Cobra back on the scene. Can Cobra still be the cure (as long as there is a little ipecac in it)?

Over the Top II: Brothers in Arms : World Champion Arm Wrestler Lincoln Hawk first fought for his son’s love, now he wrasslin’ to save the twin brother he never knew he had. Stallone flexes his acting muscles in two roles, as Lincoln and his Lupus-afflicted brother, Cedrick. Danny Pintero (“Who’s the Boss”), meanwhile, plays Stallone’s now-grown son, who follows in his father’s footsteps by entering the now-popular sport of thumb wrestling.Stop, or my Mom’s Ghost will Shoot!: Estelle Getty, whose health has prohibited her from reprising her role,  appears, via cutting-edge CGI, as a heat-packin’ apparition who still manages to get entangled with her son’s life from beyond the grave. Detective Bomowski (Stallone) is living out his final years on the force as a crossing guard, but when a local gang of ruffians (lead by Corey Feldman), begin harassing him, Tutti (Getty) gets back in action and haunts the quiet suburban streets with a vengeance that would make Freddy Krueger proud.

Judge Dredd 2: Dredder: The dystopian future of the original has since become utopian, after Judge Joe Dredd has been able to drive crime to extinction. Frustrated that his training in government-endorsed mass murder, Dredd goes undercover as a folk singer at the Worldwide Birkenstock Festival and decides to start crackin’ skulls of those damn hippies who he thinks are smoking a little too much peace pipe.I enter “Rambo” with frustration – not so much with the concept, but the chronology. Follow me: if the first film was called “First Blood,” and its sequel was “Rambo: First Blood Part II” (which should actually make it “Second Blood,” but no bother). Then, the next sequel was titled “Rambo III.” I teach English, not math, but it is obvious even to me that there is something wrong with that equation. Now we have “Rambo,” which is actually the title of the second film, minus the subheading.

I know it seems inconsequential. Perhaps it’s something I should just work out on the therapist’s couch.

Whatever the title, this latest revisit to the Sly Stallone hall of fame has John Rambo residing as a snake catcher in the depths of Burma. Why Burma, you ask? Even though the filmmakers make no mention of it, I would assume it’s because he spent his last film in Afghanistan helping those “freedom fighters” from Soviet reign. Yes, those same freedom fighters that went on to form al-Qaeda.

Thanks a bunch for that one, Rambo.

He’s approached by a group of Christian missionaries wanting to help the downtrodden by spooning them medicine and religion. Rambo reluctantly agrees to be their guide, but only because one of them is hot (forget the fact that she’s young enough to be his granddaughter– eww). Obviously, things don’t go all that well for the group and they are on the losing end of enemy rifles, causing Rambo to join a mercenary team sent in the thick of it all.

And even through the bad guys are drawn as heartless, soulless killers, the film itself is an ethical quandary.

The first few minutes are dedicated to actual documentary footage of the victims, but that is cheapened by having us root, cheer and applaud the same ruthless killing committed by Rambo and his soldiers of misfortune.

For wasn’t it just moments earlier in the film where he tells us many of these brutal thugs were actually kidnapped villagers, tortured and brainwashed into fighting, and yet we are meant to thrill when their legs are ripped off by Rambo’s tree-leveling machine gun?With “Rocky Balboa,” the actor/director’s last attempt to breathe life into his left-for-dead franchises, Stallone was a gentle giant, hollowed out by years of loss.

“Rambo” begins to flicker with the hope that this, too, may return the series to its far-superior first film. But it seems he also want to satisfy the masses who longed for his slaughterhouse mentality of the latter two films, as well. Rambo is, at first, broken, cynical and indifferent, but appears all too quick to strap on the bow and arrow after some perfunctory soliloquy of “knowing who he is.”

The problem is, the audience does not.

~ by usesoapfilm on January 28, 2008.

One Response to “Welcome to the jungle”

  1. very cool .
    de edouard.

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